Hawaii National Marine Renewable Energy Center

Wave Energy Test Site (WETS)

P.M.: Dr. Luis Vega, HINMREC

Objective:  Establish and maintain a testing site for wave energy conversion (WEC) devices.  Expand existing facilities to incorporate a wave-hub providing  berthing for as many as three wave energy conversion devices in the 10 to 1000 kW range.

Between 2003 and 2011 Ocean Power Technologies (OPT)  tested a single 40 kWe buoy in 30 m depth water in Kaneohe Marine Corps Base Hawai‘i (MCBH) on the windward (northeast) coast of the island of O‘ahu.  The up and down motion of the buoy was used to drive a generator which was connected to shore via an undersea power cable. Subsequently, HINMREC supported NAVFAC in a project established to expand the site by incorporating two additional test berths as described in WETS_Sep 2014 and WETS OVERVIEW_April 2015.  A link to a recently completed video clip about WETS is found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHpW8SE9Ptk

Marine Corps Base Hawai'i (MCBH) - Site Off Runway

Marine Corps Base Hawai’i (MCBH) – Site Off Runway

The wave energy test site (WETS) at MCBH provides a unique location for the in-water testing of WEC devices in the USA.  HINMREC is able to assess the power performance of WEC devices. Time history records of device power output as a function of environmental input and the corresponding power matrix, providing the relationship between power output and wave parameters, will be obtained.  Oceanographic instruments have been installed to provide wave and ocean current data during testing and to calibrate the UH wave hindcast and forecast models. A suite of numerical models are available to allow for virtual testing, modification and device optimization.

The data obtained at WETS has multiple uses for: developers who want to validate the performance of their device; potential investors who want to assess the performance of a device; and, eventually project developers who want to assess the performance of their project against manufacturer’s claims.  A process will be established to determine the type of data that would be in the public domain and in agreement with all parties (e.g., Navy, DOE and Developer).

WETS also provides an opportunity to evaluate the environmental feasibility of wave energy generation.  HINMREC utilizes hydrophones  to determine the acoustic signature of devices tested at WETS.  This information is needed as input to the environmental impact assessment of WEC devices and provides a unique an unprecedented database to be used by the nascent marine renewable energy community.

Periodic seawater chemical composition surveys in conjunction with ecological surveys have also been implemented to quantify other aspects of the environmental impact due to WEC devices.  The durability of the devices, their mooring systems and the submarine power cables will be assessed.  In-situ surveys are conducted to quantify the impact due to the sediment transport induced by the WEC moorings.

HINMREC associated faculty will continue to maintain wave hindcast database (Hawaii Wave Energy Resources from 34 Year Hindcast) that provide resource information in the format required to evaluate potential energy contribution of WEC devices.   The output from wave arrays will be modeled to estimate ocean area requirements and capacity factor (e.g., WEC Numerical Models for WETS_April 2015).